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Mon Jan 14, 2019, 12:32 PM

Fahrenheit 784

“History is to the nation what memory is to the individual. Honest history is the weapon of freedom.”
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Is the Trump presidency just a nightmare? How might it end?

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested after they broke into an office complex in the Watergate building in Washington, DC. On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon's resignation became official at noon. This 784 day period was among the most important in our nation's history.

Those of my generation will never forget those times. Younger people interested in politics likely have learned about that era, including from some outstanding coverage in recent times. I have not seen all that others have told me about, as I have limited access to television. And so I apologize if much of this repeats what you have recently watched. I'm going largely from the internet films of the Senate and later House hearings on Nixon and Watergate.

There are, obviously, differences between Nixon and Trump, and the nature of their criminal behaviors before, during, and after elections. Nixon was not schooled in “white collar” crime by his father, who apparently was a hard working, though not financially successful, man. Perhaps more importantly, Nixon's mother's existence had a positive influence on him.

There are some interesting similarities. During his first term, an officer from Naval Intelligence used to meet with a “former” INO officer, then serving in the FBI, in the basement of the White House. The pair were Nob Woodward and Mark Felt; they made a greater impact on Nixon's second term. Also, in December of 1971, Nixon learned that a young man in the Navy who worked for Henry Kissinger was spying on the president, and turning materials over to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Trump, of course, knew by the transition period that, at very least, the FBI was aware of the Trump-Russian scandal. While Nixon was too intimidated to call out the Joint Chiefs, Trump has publicly – and usually incorrectly – been accusing the intelligence community of conspiring against him.(Neither had a secretary named Lincoln or Kennedy, however.)

Being “watched” played upon both men's natural predisposition to being paranoid. They share this trait with others who have both superiority and inferiority complexes. This results in having few, if any, true friends, as opposed to associates. Nixon had one friend, Charles “Bebe” Rebozo; Trump has had zero true friends in his adult life. (Through Rebozo, Nixon came to spend time in Florida, in what the press called the Winter White House. However, he spent less time than Trump spends in Florida.)

Both Nixon and Trump showed personality pathology before being elected, that was related to crimes they committed during their campaigns. Nixon injected himself into the peace negotiations involving the US and Vietnam in 1968; Trump was dealing with Russia in 2016. Nixon, being anti-social, would later show some loyalty to select associates involved in his many crimes; Trump, a sociopath, has zero loyalty to his co-conspirators.

Now, let's look at a few important dates. In July of 1970, Nixon signed off on the infamous “Huston Plan” for illegal domestic spying on his enemies. The plan called for the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, and National Security Agency to conduct the types of “investigations,” using the same types of tactics the “plumbers” would employ a year or so later. Hoover, who was aware of Nixon's interference in the 1968 Vietnam peace talks, refused to sign off on it. Instead, he noted his objections/ Nixon, as John Dean later noted, never officially ended the program.

Hoover kept track of the Huston program, because he could use it to blackmail Nixon, had the president attempted to force him to retire. However, on May 2, 1972, Hoover died. While in and of itself, his death was surely a good thing, it allowed for Nixon to put his illegal activities into action at a higher level. His re-election committee, known as CREEP, hired a “retired” CIA man named Hunt, who Nixon was familiar with since his days as vice president.

Hunt hired another CIA veteran, James McCord, along with a former FBI agent named G, Gordon Liddy. One fact that is too often overlooked is that soon after being hired, McCord made an effort to befriend Martha Mitchell, the wife of the Attorney General. Then, they became operational, hiring some Cuban-American associates that Hunt knew from Nixon's vice presidential era. They broke into a number of places, including quite likely Dan Rather's home.

After being caught in the second break-in at the Watergate, a number of entities would begin investigating what the heck they were up to. However, these investigations would not influence the outcome of the 1972 presidential election, any more than the on-going investigations of Trump-Russia did the 2016 election. We can only speculate how the voting public might ave reacted in both cases, had they been fully informed.

A couple of newspapers began investigating the break-in, leading to a bit of competition between reporters from the Washington Post and New York Times. The Post had an advantage: Bob Woodward had become a reporter for them. A few years before, in the White House basement, Mark Felt had advised Bob to become a reporter – despite the fact Felt despised the media. And Felt would be assisting Woodward as he and Carl investigated Watergate.

Besides the reporters and DC police, the FBI was investigating the break-in. At Nixon's direction, several aides contacted CIA director Richard Helms, asking him to stop the FBI. Helms could have done so, by declaring a secrecy privilege based upon national security. Nixon said the investigation could bring up issues related to the “whole Bay of Pigs thing.” Like Hoover, Helms had come to distrust Nixon, and refused. The White House requests came back to haunt poor Richard.

The Watergate burglars had been tried in front of Judge John Sirica, starting in January of 1973. He did not believe the defendants had been acting on their own. Eventually, James McCord presented him with a letter that helped uncover the CREEP and White House's role.

On May 16, 1973, Nixon's Secretary of Defense – and nominee for Attorney General – Elliot Richardson contacted Archibald Cox to ask him to serve as the Special Prosecutor in the Watergate investigations. Because Cox was subpoenaing White House tapes, he fell victim to theSaturday Night Massacre on October 20. However, his replacement, Leon Jaworski, would carry on the fight for the tapes, much to Nixon's surprise.

The US Senate would hold televised investigation hearings on Watergate. The tesimony of two witnesses in particular caused severe damage to the White House attempts at a cover-up: John Dean and Alexander Butterfield. Dean told of Nixon's corruption, while Butterfield told of the taping system. These hearing began on May 17, 1973, lasted through the summer, and resulted in a 1,250-page report the following June.

The result of these sources of information – the media, the televised hearings, and more – led to a growing number of citizens believing that their president was a crook. It was no longer just the political left – which was a combination of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the New Left. It included some of the moderates in our party, and even some republicans.

It's important to note that there were several attempts in the House to introduce the topic of impeachment, before it would be taken seriously. Some were not about Watergate. On May 9, 1972, Rep. William Ryan introduced a resolution, and the following day, John Conyers introduced one; both had to do with other abuses of power. On July 31, Rep. Robert Drinin introduced a resolution, based on Nixon's illegal bombing of Cambodia. At the time, Drinin recognized his resolution would lose 400-20, had there been a vote. But these leaders were confident that the tide would turn ….and it did. The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were well prepared: in September and October, they put together a 718-page history of impeachment.

Still, when on February 6, 1974, the House voted to have its Judiciary Committee to begin hearings to consider possible articles of impeachment, there were many who believed Nixon would survive. This included Nixon himself: he considered the members of the Judiciary Committee to be “bench players,” and that he would maintain the active support of both the republicans and southern Democrats on the committee.

However, the requests for tapes had not ended with the Saturday Night Massacre. Neither the public nor Jaworski were satisfied with what Nixon was willing to give. When Jaorski subpoenaed additional tapes, the White House appealed directly to the US Supreme Court. Nixon was confident, based largely upon the number of Justices he had appointed, that he would either win,or, at worst, lose a split-decision that he could call inconclusive in regarding to executive privilege.

The Judiciary Committee's hearings were acrimonious. Even as the tide had turned on Nixon, many republicans aggressively supported the president. But the Supreme Court would rule against Nixon on July 24, 1974, thus ordering the release of the tapes. These included what was called the “smoking gun.” On July 27, 29, and 30, the Judiciary Committee voted on five articles of impeachment, passing three. (Those on Nixon's tax problems and bombing Cambodia failed.) A little over a week later, Nixon resigned.

The Nixon presidency was not brought down by any one thing. T was a combination of the polic, the press, the intelligence community, the House and Senate, Cox and Jaworski, and the public outcry. And, of course, from Nixon's criminality. The same factors are bringing Trump down now, before our very eyes.

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply Fahrenheit 784 (Original post)
H2O Man Jan 2019 OP
niyad Jan 2019 #1
H2O Man Jan 2019 #3
ffr Jan 2019 #2
H2O Man Jan 2019 #4
Hermit-The-Prog Jan 2019 #5
H2O Man Jan 2019 #6
coeur_de_lion Jan 2019 #7
H2O Man Jan 2019 #8
malaise Jan 2019 #9
H2O Man Jan 2019 #11
Mr. Ected Jan 2019 #10
H2O Man Jan 2019 #12
coeur_de_lion Jan 2019 #13
H2O Man Jan 2019 #14
dalton99a Jan 2019 #15

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 01:11 PM

1. k and r and bookmarking.

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Response to niyad (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 01:52 PM

3. Thanks!

It is a bit longer than usual -- I was without phone/ internet from Saturday morning until this morning. What else is an old man to do, besides train two Golden Gloves fighters, listen to the Beatles, and write long essays in such circumstance?

I do think the information is interesting and of value, though.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 01:22 PM

2. And William Barr's confirmation hearings, the guy who supports unlimited presidential pardons

confirmation hearing begins tomorrow. This is what Individual-1 hopes is his trump card.

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Response to ffr (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 01:55 PM

4. Right.

I am not an admirer of Barr, in any sense. I remember him from his time with Bush the Elder. It is interesting that it is being reported that he believes Mr. Mueller's report(s) must be available to Congress and the public.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 02:23 PM

5. it's time

It is time for a part of the House to begin drafting articles of impeachment. This will, of course, require additional investigation beyond what several committees have already indicated will take place.

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Response to Hermit-The-Prog (Reply #5)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 02:40 PM

6. I agree.

I'm confident that a few people from the House are already at work on this. The NY Times and WP articles suggest that the heat is being turned up now, which is likely in indirect coordination with the SDNY & Mueller investigations.

People here were already aware that this was both a national security and criminal investigation. To quote from my 11-30-2018 essay here, "Individual 1":

"Trump's attempt to build in Moscow may or may not have been a crime. But it did involve national security. And that's what Mr. Mueller's investigation has been about – potential crimes and national security. Yesterday's events uncovered the axis."

One of the questions I have is how much of the NSA information that has been shared with Mr. Mueller can be shared with Congress, or with the public?

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 03:25 PM

7. The famous 11/30 essay

You were telling us then what was gonna happen and it’s slowly happening.

Way too slow. But I will take any progress in the right direction. Will write more when I get home.

Thank you for a great essay!

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 04:24 PM

8. The infamous 11-30 report!

It's far more difficult to get accurate information on the Mueller investigation than it was during Plame. There are lots of rumors in DC, and without question, many journalists and guests on CNN and MSNBC know more than is being discussed publicly. Sill, I think that if one considers the information I've posted on this forum, it has been pretty darned interesting and insightful.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 04:29 PM

9. Another great post WaterMan


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Response to malaise (Reply #9)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 05:12 PM

11. Thank you!

Much appreciated.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 04:50 PM

10. Aside from yet another brilliant essay

What is, in your opinion, the penultimate Beatles song and album? I honestly don't know if I could answer the question.

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Response to Mr. Ected (Reply #10)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 05:18 PM

12. Thank you.

Per the Beatles: it would be hard to name the ultimate album and/or song, much less the penultimate. I've been collecting and listening to them since 1964. You'll remember that they had pictures taking in Cassius Clay's gym while he trained to challenge Sonny Liston; that and the Ed Sullivan Show got me hooked.

Many decades ago, at a party in an apartment at college, a stranger asked me if I could put on the Beatles. I asked him if he preferred old or new stuff? He said both, which resulted in our becoming and remaining best of friends.

There are a couple songs by Paul on later albums that I didn't care for at the time. But as time has passed, I've come to appreciate them.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Mon Jan 14, 2019, 07:40 PM

13. I was 13 when Watergate broke

in the news. My father worked at the Pentagon and he used to tell us to read the Post and then we would discuss the scandal with him at dinner.

It was like a game to us. But Dad made sure we knew we were witnessing history. Lord only knows how much he knew in advance, given his profession. But to us it was entertainment because we didn't really understand the stakes involved.

So now I wonder if my father, like we are now, was sweating the outcome. Worried that somehow Nixon would get away with it. Dying over how f-ing long it took.

I suppose the final outcome is inevitable. But why oh why is it taking so long?

At first when the news started saying what you've said all along -- that this is a counterintelligence investigation, I felt vindicated. But the government is still shut down. The orange asshole still in charge.

Like we used to say in the Plame days, I WANT MY PERP WALK!

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #13)

Tue Jan 15, 2019, 01:48 AM

14. I think that

your Dad probably knew what was in store for Nixon. He ventured too far outside of the acceptable for a president, and was forced out. I understand why a sane person might ask, as horrible as Trump is, does that place him outside of the acceptable? I think so. It is taking longer than we wish, but that is evidence that it is more widespread and serious than the public has recognized yet.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2019, 01:53 AM

15. Likewise, Trump must be brought down by a confluence of attacks

Great post!

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